Opening a Business

The Steps | Entry and Residence in Monaco | Buying Real Estate | Protection of Intellectual property

The Steps

1. To enter Monaco, all foreigners must have proof of identity (national identity card or passport).

2. Anyone planning to stay in Monaco for more than three months or establish residency must obtain a long-term visa (French consulates handle visa arrangements for the Principality), as well as a residence permit (carte de séjour) which is available from Monégasque police headquarters (Direction de la Sûreté Publique) upon arrival.

3. Anyone wishing to work in Monaco must also obtain a work permit (permis de travail).

4. To establish a company in Monaco you must present to the Economic Expansion Department (Direction de l’Expansion Economique) the following documents:
- Notarized statutes or private deeds which have been registered with the Tax Department (Direction des Services Fiscaux);
- Registration forms detailing partners’ civil status and a description of the company’s registered office on Monégasque territory

5. To establish an agency or administrative office of a foreign company on Monégasque territory, you must send to the Minister of State (Ministre d’Etat) an application which includes:
- Two certified copies of the company’s articles of association;
- A certificate proving the company’s registration in the country of origin;
- A Board of Directors’ directive to open an office in Monaco;
- A copy of annual accounts for three preceding years;
- A description of the premises where the office will be located;
- Details of the appointment of a responsible representative in Monaco;
- A report on the structure of the company: date of creation, main activities, countries of operation, personnel, etc.

Information forms are obtainable from the Economic Expansion Department. Documents in a language other than French must be accompanied by a French translation.

All applications for an administrative office in Monaco are subject to approval by the sovereign government of the Principality.

6. To create a commercial company in Monaco, you must obtain preliminary approval from the sovereign government to operate commercial, craft, industrial or service activities. Authorization from the Minister of State is obtained by submitting:
- A formal request on stamped paper addressed to the Minister of State;
- A certificate proving a clean police record issued within the last three months;
- A description of the office premises;
- Information about the applicants’ civil status (birth, marriage, divorce, etc.);
- Diplomas and references;
- Completed information forms from the Economic Expansion Department.

Such a business may be operated either by the proprietor or by a manager (for whom authorization must be obtained).

Entry and Residence in Monaco

To enter Monaco, or reside there either temporarily or for a considerable length of time, all non-French citizens must follow certain simple procedures:

1. All non-French citizens wishing to visit Monaco for less than three months must possess the same documents that are required to visit France. For U.S. citizens that means a valid passport.

2. Any non-French citizen wishing to stay in Monaco for more than three months must obtain the following documents:
- A long-term visa, which is available from French consular offices in the United States.
- A “carte de séjour” or residence permit, which is obtained from the Monégasque police headquarters upon arrival. Applicants will be asked to provide detailed information about themselves, and their immediate family’s civil status. They will also be asked to show documents concerning their accommodations in the Principality, such as lease agreements or ownership deeds for property.
- Applicants also must show proof of employment or professional activity if they intend to work while in Monaco. If they do not intend to work, they must show sufficient financial means of existence without working.

3. Foreigners may apply for temporary residence (a one-year resident permit which can be renewed twice, each time for one year); as an ordinary resident (a three-year resident permit which can be renewed twice, each time for three years); or as a privileged resident (valid for ten years, and renewable after administrative inquiry has determined that residence is actual).

4. All non-French citizens wishing to work in Monaco must obtain a “permis de travail” or work permit from the Department of Employment by first showing a residence permit or work contract. The work permit allows an individual to perform only the work for which it was issued.

Buying real estate in Monaco

Real estate transactions take place in great freedom. The only formality is the deed executed and authenticated by a notary which guarantees the validity of the transaction both for the purchaser and the vendor. Any individual and legal entity, whatever his nationality, may become the purchaser of a piece of real estate in the Principality.

The cost per square meter (approximately 10.7 square feet) for an apartment located in a new building varies between 45,000 francs and 80,000 francs ($ 8,036 and $ 14,286 / 1USD = 5,6 FF).

Individual

An individual must produce documents providing proof of his identity and civil status:
- Monégasque residence permit or national identity card or passport;
- Family record book if married under the joint estate system;
- Marriage contract, if one was drawn up.

Legal entity

A legal entity must produce the following documents in French:
- The articles and memorandum of association of the company;
- A copy of the relevant entry from the Register of Companies less than three months old;
- The minutes of the general meeting approving the purchase of the property;
- Notarized power of attorney authorizing a person to represent the company and to conclude the transaction.

If there is a translation into French, it must be supplied by a sworn or authorized translator. When these documents come from abroad, they must be certified as being a true copy of the original by the nearest Monégasque consulate. Please contact the New York consulate to receive a listing of your nearest consulate.

Notaries

The purchase and sale of an item of real estate must of necessity be carried out using the services of a notary.

The notary is a legal official who works within the framework of a learned profession; he is authorized to deal with all deeds and contracts to which the parties concerned must or wish to give the legal status which is associated with documents of the public authorities. For this reason, he certifies their date, keeps them in safe custody and delivers engrossed and authentic copies of them.

He is required to prepare legal instruments and deeds which, in the context of the transfer of a piece of real estate, provides the necessary guarantees for the purchaser. In fact, in addition to his professional liability being involved, he ensures the performance or supervises the formalities essential to the execution of the documents he prepares. In particular, he is required to register the legal instrument or deed at the Mortgage Registry in Monaco, which enables him to check that there is “…No mention of a mortgage taken out on the property sold whether this was done by the vendor or previous owners.”

The cost of the notarized documents consists of:
- The notary’s fees: The percentage is applied to the total before sales tax: – Above 20,000 francs – 1.5%, to which are added small supplementary expenses (copies, stamps, etc.).
- The registration fees
- General system: 7.5% (registration 6.5% and entry 1%). These fees are calculated on the price stated or the market value if the latter is higher.
- Special system: Entry 1% plus VAT. This system applies to transactions taking place at the same time as the construction or delivery of buildings.

Protection of intellectual property in Monaco There is no country in Europe that takes the protection of industrial intellectual property more seriously than Monaco. This protection is available to all American citizens as well as any individual or business domiciliated or established on the Monégasque territory, or any territory of a country bound by the Paris Convention for the protection of industrial property rights.

At the national level

Property rights may be obtained in three areas:

- Patents
The maximum duration of patent protection issued in Monaco is 20 years, with the application process offering secrecy (access only to the applicant and his/her legal inheritors) for about two years.

Published information about the grant of a patent is limited to: name and address (or registered office) of the applicant, patent number, date of filing and grant, title of the invention, its classification and reference to priorities claimed.

Patents are granted without governmental guarantee or research as to the patentable nature or precedence.

- Industrial design
Industrial design protection is offered for ten years, with the possibility of five ten-year renewals, for a total protection of fifty years.

Generally, applications for industrial design protection are made in the form of drawings, photographs or illustrations.

If the applicant has submitted an international design under the Hague Agreement, there is no need for further formalities within the Principality in order to be protected on Monégasque territory if Monaco is designated in the international deposit.

Industrial design protection is issued without governmental search and all applicants are urged to carry out their own by consulting the register of granted designs.

- Trademarks
The duration for trademark protection is ten years, with multiple renewals possible.

Published information about patented trademarks includes: Whether it is a figurative trademark or specific graphic representation, date of deposit, patent number, name and address of owner, categories in which protection is required, description of goods and services, reference to priorities claimed, if any.

At the international level

Monégasque residents may apply for international patents, providing protection in some 80 countries covered through the World Intellectual Property Organization, or a European patent, providing protection in the countries of the European Union.

The Principality of Monaco is a signatory of the following international agreements:
Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property Rights;
Berne Convention;
Madrid Arrangement for the International Registration of Trademarks;
Hague Agreement for the International Deposit of Industrial Designs;
Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization;
Patent Cooperation Treaty;
European Patents Convention.